Does anyone else remember as a kid the Spinning Roundabouts they used to have in playgrounds? If it was just me in the playground I loved going on the Spinning Roundabout because I could make it go as fast or slow as I liked. However rarely did that happen mostly at playgrounds you’re part of a group of kids and you are expected to interact and play the games that someone else made the rules up for. At those times I hated the Spinning Roundabout. The group game was scare dare where everyone pilled onto the roundabout and someone (normally the oldest or strongest) was in charge of spinning the roundabout till you either risked your life jumping off, begged for mercy to be let off (getting labeled either a cry baby, girl or queer) or vomited promptly ending the game as the roundabout, everyone on it and probably the equipment near by got covered in high velocity projectile vomit.
I feel a bit the same way about getting a diagnosis about exactly what is wrong with me as I did with the Spinning Roundabout. In my head I’ve always known I was different to others but I was a good mimic and learnt how to behave. I learnt when to smile, when to laugh, when to frown, when to cry but I rarely felt any of the emotions I showed to the outside world. I learnt to hide the fact I was depressed, manic, hyper-sexualised or irritable. If I did slip up and show a mood being a girl I had the handy excuse of “hormones”, “that time of the month”, “stressed” or a million other things I learnt to say. Close family, friends or lovers got to see the mask crack on occasions but they were so used to my quirky little habits that no one really thought much about it they certainly never labeled me a “mentally ill”.
In any type of rehabilitation the psychological text tell you that admitting you have a problem is the first step and the hardest part after that it get’s simpler. They are totally wrong! Admitting you have a problem is simple but trusting someone enough to let them see the real you that lives inside the perfectly normal mask you show the world is the hardest part. Opening up and answering questions about things you don’t tell anyone is terrifying but if you want a true diagnosis you have to trust your psychiatrist and answer questions, do test, let him talk to family/friends, find old school reports, find any diagnostic reports done for school/work/university and so on.
Then you hold your breath and wait for THE DIAGNOSIS. You know they are going to tell you that you have some form of mental illness but what one is it. Are you Bipolar Class I, Bipolar Class II, Cyclothymia, Schizophrenic, ADHD, ASD or maybe Split Personality?
In my case my original diagnosis was “Bipolar Class II with rapid mood cycles”. I also officially got told I have an IQ off the chart it’s in the 1% of the population that they can’t actually measure, I have way above average cognitive function and I’m very high functioning Aspergers.
However there was a teeny tiny problem with the diagnosis which became very obvious when I had to start a mood tracking chart and trailing medication. I have 3 very distinct moods and I can not only accurately predict when they will happen I can control my reactions to those moods and adjust my survival strategy so that 99% of people wouldn’t know I wasn’t perfectly normal. I also had adverse reactions to every antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug at doses low enough not to even register as “clinical does” they made me worse not better.
For anyone who doesn’t know much about Bipolar you’d assume the mood tracking just confirmed my diagnosis after all I have very repaid mood cycles of depressed, manic, irritable in that order. If you look at the name of the disease you start to see the problem Bi = 2 + Polar = opposite so Bipolar = 2 opposite states of emotion (depressed + manic).
OHHHHHHHH right but wait you have 3 distinct mood states! Exactly I have 3 very distinct mood states, revers medication reactions and I can control my reaction to my moods – so no I don’t fit the criteria for Bipolar. From my Psychiatrist point of view I’m both one of the most fascinating patients he has and the most frustrating because I seem to have bad reactions to every drug they put me on and I don’t fit neatly into a diagnostic criteria. However he loves the fact that I can articulately describe how I see, small, taste, touch and process information from the point of view of someone with Aspergers so he’s getting a very rare glimpse into the mind of someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder and he’s discovering some assumptions held by psychiatric specialists might be just a little wrong.
So what is wrong with me apart from having Aspergers? My current diagnosis is that I MIGHT have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). My poor psychiatrist actually got a second opinion because I’m so hard to classify. Apparently my ability to cognitively process everything rapidly means I can very quickly process a mood change and adjust my coping strategy to mask what is happening so I don’t show classic symptoms externally but internally I’m having a mental meltdown.
Tomorrow we yet again climb on the spinning roundabout of officially changing my diagnosis and trialling me on ADHD medication (sigh). Hopefully it’s a nice calm ride not a hideous one that creates projectile vomit.